Policy Documents

Expanding Education Choices: From Vouchers and Tax Credits to Savings Accounts

Jonathan Butcher and Lindsey M. Burke –
July 26, 2013

In this policy report, the authors assert that education is on the verge of a new frontier. Online virtual schools are spreading, and charter schools now account for some 2 million students. Parents are able to find hundreds of educational tools online. A movement is gaining momentum to give all parents the ability to choose where—and how—their children are educated. This movement builds on long-standing school choice programs, including the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, and private school scholarship options in Florida and Pennsylvania, among other states. The next generation of educational choice must offer more than school choice. Parents should have the flexibility to choose among schools, online courses, tutors, and other education services through education savings accounts (ESAs). ESAs give parents control over the funds that a state would have spent on their child in a public school, allowing them to use their child’s funds for a variety of education services and products. This Heritage Foundation Special Report presents three ways in which states can refine their existing school choice programs, transforming existing voucher and tax credit programs into flexible education savings accounts.